Friday, October 16, 2015

Autumn begins in the badlands

About ten years ago, I stood at the overlook and thought about erosion
and about Teddy Roosevelt, 
for whom this park is named,
There is a quietness about this place.
No rush, no rush, no rush. Geologic time. . .

Autumn Begins

Autumn begins unnoticed. Nights slowly lengthen.
And little by little, clear winds turn colder and colder,
summer's blazes giving way. My thatch hut grows still.
At the bottom stair, in bunchgrass, lit dew shimmers.

Meng Hao-Jan      (689/691-740)
Tang Dynasty, China

The Mountain Poems of Meng Hao-Jan,
translated by David Hinton, Archipelago, 2004.
Kindle location 130

Meng Hao-Jan stands at the beginning of the great flowering of Tang Dynasty poetry.
There are good articles in Wikipedia on both Meng Hao-Jan and the Tang Dynasty,

I had a good friend who used to write just four lines in her journal every night for many years.

Writing a four-line poem in this manner is an excellent exercise, which was given to me in a poetry seminar many years ago, Note that in the translation above all the lines (except the fourteen-syllable one) are twelve syllables in length. That is a good length to strive for in your exercise. In the translation above, the wonderful description of the light on bunchgrass ends the poem. Strive for a moment like this one to follow more generalized description and explanation in the earlier part of the poem. Because of the short length, this could be a valuable daily exercise. I am going to try one again right now!

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